Several weeks after all my friends quit playing it, I finally downloaded Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. This is that new weird multiplayer edition, starring characters from the entire series mythos. Supposedly it is insanely grind-y, but that’s okay, because it’s made more fun simply by virtue of playing with other people. (World of Warcraft has a similar advantage.)
The idea behind the game is perfectly sound. Castlevania has actually had a pretty wide variety of player characters, each with his or her own unique playstyle. (Or, if not unique exactly, at least gimmicky enough to differentiate them from their other Castlevania brothers and sisters.) My first gripe, even before loading the game up, is that I didn’t like the characters they picked as starters. By which I mean: no Simon Belmont. How do you have a Castlevania game with an ensemble cast and not include Simon Belmont? For shame.
My second gripe was that the two characters I’ve had the most fun playing as in recent years are both slated as DLC. J was the reason to play Aria of Sorrow, and Maria has been a personal favorite ever since I got Dracula X Chronicles. But nope! Neither are packed in. The two of them, along with Yoko, aren’t available yet. My Billy Bucks are ready for their eventual release.
The six remaining characters are a mixed bag. I’m told that multiplayer is dominated by twinked-out Soma and Alucard players, which is unsurprising considering they’re the prettyboys with silver hair. I had some fun with Charlotte (though I have no idea who she is), but was most at home with whip-and-axe-weilding Jonathan Morris, the Belmont-wannabe.
Much to my chagrin, Shanoa feels like the “strongest” of the starting characters.
All I’ve done so far is clear the first stage with a few of the characters, blow a bunch of gold in the shop, and try without success to play the game with my SF4 fight pad. Which is my third gripe: you need your right thumbstick to move the camera around, or to zoom out the map. My fight pad obviously has no such device, so I’m stuck either using the left thumbstick to move my character (a sub-optimal solution at best), or playing the game without camera controls.
I wish they’d seen this problem coming. I’m sure with some finagling they could have consolidated all the special move buttons a bit, freeing up one of the shoulders for camera functions. It’s not like you can really navigate the map while your camera is zoomed out or panned away, anyhow.
Hopefully some of my dudes will drag the game back out and slum it with me, so I can see whether or not the multiplayer makes everything worth the while. There’s a DLC level available, too, but I’ve still got five levels to master, so I’m not in any hurry.
Crap, I forgot to leave myself time to talk about Mighty Flip Champs, which is the other game I’ve been playing this weekend. This game reminds me a great deal of Gyromite on the NES. That statement may perhaps need some explanation… in a later post.